Opportunity Reaches First Target Inside Crater

September 27, 2007
Opportunity Reaches First Target Inside Crater
A layer of light-toned rock exposed inside Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars appears to mark where the surface was at the time, many millions of years ago, when an impact excavated the crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached its science team's first destination for the rover inside Victoria Crater, information received from Mars late Tuesday confirms.

Opportunity has descended the inner slope of the 800-meter-wide crater (half a mile wide) to a band of relatively bright bedrock exposed partway down. The rover is in position to touch a selected slab of rock with tools at the end of its robotic arm, after safety checks being commanded because the rover is at a 25-degree tilt. Researchers intend to begin examining the rock with those tools later this week.

"This will be the first of several stops within this band of rock," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science payloads on Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit. "By sampling it at several different levels in the crater, we’re hoping to figure out the processes that led to its formation and its very distinctive appearance."

Opportunity drove 2.25 meters (7.38 feet) on Sept. 25 to get the selected flat rock within reach. That was the 1,305th Martian day of a mission originally planned for 90 Martian days. After entering the crater on Sept. 13 for a multi-week investigation of rock exposed inside, the rover advanced toward the bright band with drives of 7.45 meters (24 feet) on Sept. 18, and 2.47 meters (8 feet) on Sept. 22.

"We have completed several successful drives with Opportunity inside Victoria Crater," said John Callas, Mars rover project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The rover is experiencing slopes as high as 25 degrees at some places, but wheel slippage has only been around 10 percent."

Spirit, meanwhile, is exploring the top surface of a plateau called "Home Plate," where rocks hold evidence about an explosive combination of water and volcanism. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Search for Mars life stymied by contamination threat

Related Stories

Jupiter's moon Europa

September 30, 2015

Jupiter's four largest moons – aka. the Galilean moons, consisting of Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – are nothing if not fascinating. Ever since their discovery over four centuries ago, these moons have been a source ...

Opportunity Mars rover preparing for active winter

September 26, 2015

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is conducting a "walkabout" survey of "Marathon Valley," where the rover's operators plan to use the vehicle through the upcoming Martian winter, and beyond, to study the context ...

Researcher discusses where to land Mars 2020

September 8, 2015

In August 2015, more than 150 scientists interested in the exploration of Mars attended a conference at a hotel in Arcadia, California, to evaluate 21 potential landing sites for NASA's next Mars rover, a mission called Mars ...

Earth and Mars could share a life history

July 7, 2015

While life is everywhere on Earth, there is much debate about how it began. Some believe it originated naturally from the chemistry found on our planet as it evolved. Others hypothesize that life—or at least the building ...

Recommended for you

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...

Researchers find a new way to weigh a star

October 5, 2015

Researchers from the University of Southampton have developed a new method for measuring the mass of pulsars – highly magnetised rotating neutron stars formed from the remains of massive stars after they explode into supernovae.

Moon Express, Rocket Lab set for 2017 mission plan

October 5, 2015

In 2017 a private moon landing could make news. If the mission is successful, said GeekWire, Moon Express could become the first privately backed venture to achieve a soft lunar landing.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.